entitlement generation · Facebook · Selfishness · social media · Technology · Tim Challies · Twitter

A Selfish Post

I have to share something that happened to me today and it was kind of a big deal; I got my first famous person retweet. Now I know what you are think, “Seriously, you have over a thousand tweets and this is the first time that you have been retweeted by someone famous?” It is true though, today was the first time. What made this so interesting was that I have been thinking about social media and have read some things in the news recently about them. I was struck with how wrapped up I have gotten with getting myself heard, read, retweeted or followed. I was even complaining to a friend the other day about having a blog that no one reads. I write all this stuff and does it really just disappear into the digital void of Al Gore’s creation? I have been thinking all about me, social media has become another way to indulge in my proclivity for selfiness. In fact a new study about Facebook shows that we are more apt to be selfish on Facebook than giving (I know shocker).

The way this plays out is that the average user is more “liked” than they click “like” on other’s posts. They receive more friend requests than they send. On average, 63% of Facebook users studied received friend requests in the survey month while only 40 percent made a friend request.

The result? It feels good to be on Facebook. It might even feel better than life off Facebook. After all, there’s no dislike button, and friends are unlikely to post harsh comments on your page. Instead, people you might not have seen in years bombard you with positive affirmations day after day, year after year.

“You keep getting all these wonderful positive rewards,” said Keith Hampton, the study’s main author and a Rutgers University professor. “That’s pretty hard to give up.”

Getting more than you are giving, in terms of emotional support, “is kind of what you are looking for,” he added.

This might be the lure of Facebook, the reason it could be worth $100 billion and the reason it has 845 million users who are not leaving even if they’ve been on the site for years. The study found no evidence of “Facebook fatigue,” the idea that people get tired of Facebook after they’ve been on it for a long time.

In fact it was the opposite. The longer someone had been using Facebook, the more frequently they posted status updates, pressed “like” and commented on friends’ content. (Source)

I am finding this to be completely true. I want people to like my comments or read the articles I post and yet I am unwilling to engage them and their postings. So it’s not really social media because the social part is not happening; it’s more a affirmation hub where I can look for people to tell me that I am funny, witty and the like. This sense of entitlement that I have and that my earlier comments portray is dangerous and can be seen all over our world. I have this idea that I deserve to be heard that,

No one looks the way I do.
I have noticed that it’s true.
No one walks the way I walk.
No one talks the way I talk.
No one plays the way I play.
No one says the things I say.
I am special.
I am me. (Source)

This hit me today, I don’t have any right to be heard, read or liked. I am no different than the millions of other people that have blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and all the other myriad ways that we have created to make ourselves heard. Tim Challies summed it up nicely the other day on his blog when he said;

I’m entitled to Hell. That’s the only entitlement I have. That’s all I deserve, because of my sin. Anything else is grace, an unmerited bonus from the God of all grace. I don’t deserve a breath of life, a crumb of food, a drop of water, a stitch of clothing, a cent in my wallet, or an hour of education. I’m not entitled to one friend, one vacation, one verse of Scripture, or even one sermon. I’m certainly not entitled to salvation and heaven. I’m entitled to damnation and Hell.

That sense of entitlement makes me seek mercy, receive mercy, enjoy mercy, and be merciful to others. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “What have I that I did not receive as a free gift of divine grace? How therefore can I ever boast as if I had actually been entitled to it or earned it?”

So, there are basically only two ways to live: with a proud and angry sense of entitlement or with a humble and thankful sense of responsibility.

To summarize, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). (Source)

6 thoughts on “A Selfish Post

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I find social networking to be overwhelming and a bit depressing but everyday I log in and try to participate. I find that people aren’t looking for the serious but would rather comment and “like” the surface things ( what I ate, where I went, etc.). For me, it makes it harder to feel the connection. Adding Aspergers to it, I find social chit chat very difficult on a constant basis and social networking can be just chit chat most of the time. People are not as considerate online and are a bit more selfish which is starting to spill over into “real” life. I want to practice being more thankful even if that means, in our day and age, liking more updates than I receive likes/views.

  2. This is, of course, more the norm on Facebook, but in the blogoshpere the visceral hatred that can be spewed is incredible. I have seen and read some of the most hateful and ridiculous things about pastors, authors, movie makers and more all because we can hide anonymously behind our digital walls. Because of this, people feel the freedom to say whatever they want without all the facts or any reservations. I get disgusted by the lack of decency and humility that we as humans show when we feel that no one can trace things back to us. In the end, the people that we attack online are real people just like us and I wish we would all realize that and act accordingly. I’m not saying that disagreement is bad but lets have a little decorum and grace when we do not see eye to eye on things.

  3. Oh I agree! It’s absolutely shocking! Christian or not, I feel that people should remain decent and kind even when disagreeing (online or in person). I think the idea of being anonymous has somehow shut off the thinking through mechanism and people can just lash out immediately. I see in many of the blogs I read, even the fashion ones. What is the reasoning behind telling someone on a fashion blog that they are fat or vain for having a blog that has to do with what they like (in this case clothes). Or someone posting a personal experience or a theological view? Yes, many of our great writers could disagree but there was a community about it. The discussions, the thinking, the working through ideas, the enjoyment of a bit of debate (Bloomsbury, Inklings, etc.). We should be thankful for having the venue’s we have today. We get to form larger communities to share. That’s the beauty of being online. We get to share what is important to us or things that we enjoy. To find a like minded community to connect with. If someone disagrees or does not like it, do not read it or just remain silent until something can be said kindly (even when disagreeing). As Thumper says, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

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